Strategy 101: When you overstretched your forces,
Coalition forces in Afghanistan have “now reached their limit”, according to General Sir Michael Rose, former commander of UN forces in Bosnia…Gen Rose warns there are not enough combat troops to continue the momentum against the Taliban.
do not do this:
…[O]fficials said the raid Sunday, apparently the first acknowledged instance of U.S. ground forces operating in Syria, was intended to send a warning to the Syrian government. “You have to clean up the global threat that is in your back yard, and if you won’t do that, we are left with no choice but to take these matters into our hands,” said a senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the cross-border strike.
The United States has offered similar justifications for recent cross-border strikes in Pakistan, where it has launched missile attacks and at least one air assault against suspected members of Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgency. “As targets present themselves, and are identified . . . they become more and more at risk. Just like in Pakistan, there will be steps taken to deal with it,” the senior official said.
Jesus said, “Those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” That’s a clear warning, and the U.S. should heed it. A sword can cause you to perish in all sorts of ways. You might provoke the blow that kills you. You might cut yourself. Your swing might miss and you might murder someone you love. And the weight of a sword on your belt might cause you to drown as you swim through rough waters.
The violent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq spread to neighboring countries as the situation metasticizes. The U.S. should think ahead a few moves. A Syrian response might include an activation of Hezbollah against the U.S. forces in the region. They might take actions inside Lebannon. They might strike…Israel. See how quickly this could get out of hand? What if an angry Israel learns from our example and not only responds, but lashes out at other perceived threats in a fit of “self-defense?” Think Iran. Think backlash. Think conflagration.
Beyond the strategic uncertainties, other costs accrue rapidly due to the U.S.’s choice to use violence. The poor and the merely nearby die. Words like “collateral damage” and “double effect” are not large enough to hide moral complicity with murder. (Thom Stark wrote about this on his blog as well, although I think he’s too easy on Sen. Obama and the implications of his proposals.)
Violence has a life of its own. It uses you; you don’t use it.